Burger King Takes a Run at a Soul Food Classic: Chicken and Waffles

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Las Vegas, Burger King, Nevada
Alamy
Fried chicken and waffles is a staple menu item at countless soul food and comfort food restaurants, but that's not stopping Burger King (BKW) from trying to give the meal a fast-food spin.

Burger King is testing a new sandwich in the Northeast that takes the breaded chicken patty used in its Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich from its King Deals Value Menu and replaces the bun with a split waffle.

Burger King's Chicken & Waffle Sandwich isn't as hearty as the meal that it's based on. It's selling for as little as $2.29. But the chain's latest attempt to turn heads with a unique menu item will at least attract curious nibblers if it does decide to broaden the offering across the country.

Waffling About

Burger King isn't the first popular chain to attempt to reinvent this classic dish.

As Nation's Restaurant News points out, last summer, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (PLKI) offered Chicken Waffle Tenders -- consisting of chicken tenders dipped in a vanilla maple-scented waffle batter, served with a honey maple dipping sauce. DineEquity's (DIN) IHOP did it three years ago by combining its chicken strips with Belgian waffle quarters. Yum! Brands (YUM) tried to breathe new life into its breakfast business last summer by testing a Waffle Taco -- an egg, sausage, and waffle breakfast sandwich.

Even if it doesn't succeed -- and some of the early taste tests haven't been very flattering to the chain's new sandwich -- it's at least comforting to see that Burger King isn't just copying McDonald's (MCD) the way that it has for the past couple of years.

Burger King followed McDonald's in offering fancy coffee drinks, fresh fruit smoothies, and popcorn chicken. It has gone on to roll out doppelgangers of the Egg McMuffin and McRib sandwiches. In November, it introduced the Big King, which any patron will quickly recognize as a body double to the Big Mac.

Then again, it's not as if following McDonald's lead is such a clever idea right now. The world's largest restaurant operator disappointed investors by posting a 1.4 percent decline in comps at its North American eateries during the holiday quarter.

Have It Your Way

Burger King isn't doing a lot better than McDonald's these days. It won't post holiday quarter results until next week, but when last it checked in, 2013 was shaping up as a dud domestically. Burger King posted negative comps for its stateside locations during each of the first three quarters.

The 13,259-unit chain is expected to post flat earnings growth for the period. Revenue is also expected to fall sharply, but that's not as alarming as it sounds. Burger King is in the process of re-franchising many of its locations as it hands over company-owned restaurants to franchisees. It's a move that sacrifices revenue now for higher-margin franchise royalties later.

When you're as big as Burger King, with more than 7,400 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada alone, it's hard to engineer a turnaround on a single sandwich. Absent wildly buzzing reviews, it doesn't seem as if the Chicken and Waffle Sandwich will move its revenue needle. It may not even make it past the regional testing phase.

However, the popularity of fast food chains in general has been diminishing in recent quarters, leaving them all hungrier for market share. Whether it makes a splash or not, this is the kind of thinking that Burger King needs if it's to stand out in a competitive landscape.


Motley Fool analyst Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Burger King Worldwide and McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.

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26 Comments

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johann.noone

What's next? Watermelon on a stick?

February 06 2014 at 8:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

Turnip greens and cornbread are soul food and much better than what Burger King offers.

February 06 2014 at 7:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jamespate9

I TRY TO LAUGH HARD EVERYDAY,IT HELPS MY HEALTH AND SAVES ON MY DOCTOR BILLS.

February 06 2014 at 4:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jamespate9

LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL

February 06 2014 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jamespate9

D. O. A. UPON ARRIVAL !!! THEIR NEW FRIES ARE TO DIE FOR....

February 06 2014 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve

Chicken and waffles? Give me a break. Since when is this a soul food "classic"?

February 06 2014 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Don Cumbie

ahh, yes.. po chops my vote.

February 06 2014 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terry

I thought maybe a chitterling wrap !!!! Or a tripe turnover !!! Or a pickled pigsfeet pita !!! Let's get some REAL soul !!! haha !!!

February 06 2014 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alfredschrader

I'm a rocket scientist, but there is something I don't get. Maybe someone can explain it.
I go to a party and there are Polish people there, Mexican people there, Japanese people there, South American people there, French Canadian people and more. All are dancing and having fun. Then an African American couple shows up. The theme immediately changes from fun and dancing to race-ism. Why ?
For all practical purposes the party has just ended and it's time to find another party. So I leave.

February 06 2014 at 11:55 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
RWeint774

Burger King continues to to offer new sandwiches. What's confusing is they don't offer food that leans towards being a little healthier. I can't understand why they don't offer there sandwiches on any type of Wheat or Multigrain bun.I realize that eating there is a matter of choice.But at least offer a choice. Wendy's offer's a baked potato. I asked the manager why they don't offer a Wheat or Mulit grain bun and the reply was "you should call and make the suggestion" One would think that in a food conscious society where calories are now being listed with products these item's would be the norm. A waffle and Chicken sandwich certainly deserves a round of applause(lol). Maybe they'll offer the waffles in wheat.

February 06 2014 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply